Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

Alberta Justice & Solicitor General and Aboriginal Relations Minister Kathleen Ganley in Calgary, Alberta, June 26, 2015. In a speech at a convention hosted by the Canadian Bar Association, Ganley said the province’s legal aid system needs to be reviewed.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Legal experts, politicians and Canada's top judge are saying it's increasingly difficult for low- and middle-income Canadians to get access to the courts.

Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, who was attending a Canadian Bar Association convention on Friday, told reporters there needs to be a review of the province's legal aid since it appears to barely be getting the job done.

"We're sort of rapidly moving toward a crisis point and we need to start considering what it is we can do to solve that," Ganley said.

Story continues below advertisement

"It's quite clear that the service being provided under the current scheme is inadequate, so in Alberta we're just sort of barely covering people on AISH, which is the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped."

Ganley said there are people who are above the threshold to qualify for legal aid who still can't afford lawyers of their own.

"The middle class can't afford legal services anymore. It's a significant challenge," she said.

"We can continue throwing money at the problem, but doesn't seem to be a solution that has worked thus far."

Alberta defence lawyers have been pushing for more money since six regional legal-aid offices were closed and staff laid off in Calgary, Whitecourt and Lethbridge last summer.

Ganley said a review is to be done, but it's still too early to say when it will be conducted and what the parameters will be.

Access to legal services was also raised by the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

Beverley McLachlin told convention delegates that the system is failing those in need.

"Legal-aid funding and coverage is not available for most people and problems, and the cost of legal services and length of proceedings is steadily increasing," she said.

"Statistics show that people who get legal assistance in dealing with their legal problems are much more likely to achieve better results than those who do not."

Michelle Hollins, outgoing president of the bar association, announced the group will be active in the federal election campaign in a non-partisan way.

"We need to put important issues such as ... equal justice issues and our views on legislation on the radar of the parties and of the public. We cannot sit on the sidelines," Hollins said.

It's important to give a voice to the "thousands of Canadians who are left out of the justice system," she said.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies